Depression is a condition that no one is immune to. It can affect anyone of any age, from any socioeconomic status, gender, race, ethnicity, or culture. Depression can be mild to major and can negatively impact all parts of a person’s life. Relationships can feel more difficult and not feel as joyful, job tasks can feel extremely challenging and more difficult to complete than usual, and a person experiencing depression may isolate themselves from others when they wouldn’t typically do so. In this newsletter you will find signs of depression, causes, risk factors, and treatment options. A person does not have to have all of the symptoms listed to be experiencing depression.
Signs of depression: (References 1 and 2)
Ongoing sadness, tearfulness, anxiousness, and/or feeling of emptiness. Some people find themselves thinking, I am really “emotional” lately; Ongoing negative thoughts and thought process; Feeling hopelessness, helplessness and guilt; Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable; Feeling more tired than usual, which seems persistent; Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions; Persistent sleep problems. In severe cases, difficulty getting any sleep or trouble getting out of bed; Moving more slowly than usual; Fixation on past mistakes; Feeling responsible or accountable for things that are not within a person’s control; Changes in appetite and weight. Some people overeat and some don’t eat enough when feeling depressed; Thoughts of death or suicide; Suicide attempts; Easily irritated, agitated, and having anger outbursts; Difficulty sitting still and focusing; Unexplained pain in the body. Sometimes described as aching and/or widespread pain.
Causes of Depression: (Reference 1)
1. Biological: This is not completely understood, but it is know people who are depressed experience physical changes in their brain.
2. Brain Chemistry: Think of this as electric circuits in the brain not transmitting the needed amount of energy, resulting in feeling depressed.
3. Hormones: Changes in hormones affects how a person feels. A common hormone for women is estrogen and for men is testosterone. Thyroid problems can also cause depression.
4. Genetics: This is undergoing more research, though it is known depression can affect more than one person related by blood.
Risk Factors: (Reference 1)
Negative thought pattern, low self-esteem, self-critical and overdependence on others; Experiencing traumatic events; Blood relative history of any form of depression and/or substance abuse; Feeling isolated or frequently criticized; Serious and/or chronic health issues; Particular medicines can cause or contribute to depression.
No matter what the cause, it is important for a person to be evaluated for medical reasons causing their depression. Often times, men have much more difficulty asking for help than women. Depression is not anything to be ashamed of. It is just like any other illness. If a person has diabetes, we would expect them to see a doctor. The same needs to be expected of someone with depression.
Treatment Options: (Reference 1)
1. Psychotherapy. This is typically on an outpatient basis; however, for more severe cases and stabilization this may be done in an inpatient hospital setting. A person receiving this service in a hospital will most likely be referred for outpatient psychotherapy after discharge. Psychotherapy may be performed by Licensed Clinical Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, or Licensed Professional Counselors. Psychotherapy is known for helping individuals explore the impact of their thoughts on how they feel and behave. The human brain is able to change in structure through the psychotherapy process.
2. Medications may also be prescribed by your doctor for treatment of depression. Some primary care physicians are comfortable treating less complicated/ severe depression. If you are experiencing a moderate to severe case of depression, you may benefit more from services from a Psychiatrist. A Psychiatrist is especially trained in working with mental and emotional challenges and medication treatment.
3. Other treatment options may include nutritional and supplement support. Treatments focusing on the “mind-body” connection, such as “acupuncture, yoga or tai chi, meditation, guided imagery, massage therapy, music or art therapy, spirituality”/ spiritual support, and “aerobic exercise” are also known for helping support recovery from depression.
Your healthcare professional may recommend all or part of the above treatment/ recovery support options depending on your specific needs, preferences, and available resources. “Mind-body” treatments are not typically used as the primary treatment for depression, but may be used in conjunction with psychotherapy and/or medication.
1. Mayo Clinic. Depression. Retrieved February 7, 2016 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977.
2. National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Retrieved February 2, 2016 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml.